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suNDaNCe NOteBOOK B. RUBY RICH FRONTLINES Amid wild mountain weather that alternated ski-denying snowless peaks with crazy blizzard white-outs threatening avalanches, the Sundance Film Festival (January 19–29) managed its annual trick of getting everybody excited about cinema and its offscreen variations. For this writer, the festival’s U.S. dramatic competition is usually the least exciting section, packed as it can be with formulaic offerings from wannabe directors seeking a contract. But the 2012 edition included one standout exception to this approximate rule. The winner of the jury’s grand prize, Beasts of the Southern Wild, provides an intense vision of community and apocalypse in a Louisiana neighborhood known as the Bathtub. Director Benh Zeitlin, working from a play by his longtime friend and co-scenarist Lucy Alibar, delivers a monumentally original fable set in a place outside of time where a feral sort of civilization does battle with the elements. The film’s six-year-old African American heroine, Hushpuppy, is played by Quvenzhané Wallis. The tiny Wallis audaciously bounded onto the Park City stage after the screening to proclaim her readiness for movie stardom, and indeed she dominates Beasts with fearless energy (and wild hair). On the “wrong” side of the New Orleans http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Film Quarterly University of California Press
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